Pat Hume speaks of loyalist threats and dark days

John Hume’s wife Pat has told of how her husband endured threats from loyalist paramilitaries alongside “run-of-the-mill” SDLP activists during the course of the party’s efforts to end the Troubles.

She made the comments in a new film released by the party to coincide with its 45th anniversary celebrations on Friday.

John and Pat Hume.

John and Pat Hume.

During interview, Mrs Hume, also tells how the daughter of one of those murdered in the Greysteel atrocity provided Mr Hume with his first encouragement to pursue talks with the leadership of the republican movement in the early 1990s.

Several party grandees including Seamus Mallon, Joe Hendron and Sean Farren also contribute to ‘SDLP 45 - Adversity.’

“John was getting threats from the loyalists but so were ordinary, run-of-the-mill members of the SDLP,” said Mrs Hume.

“I remember in October 1993, Terry Tracey’s son in Belfast being shot, the only reason really is that he was in the SDLP.

“1993 was especially difficult when it was discovered John was speaking to Gerry Adams and all hell broke loose.

“He was vilified from one end of Ireland to the other end.

“He just wasn’t able to sleep. He wasn’t eating properly. There were all sorts of vicious letters arriving in the post, vicious phone calls coming.”

Mrs Hume recalled the horrendous month of October 1993, which was shamed by both the Shankill bombing and the Greysteel atrocity.

“I remember when the Shankill bomb happened in October 1993. That nearly killed him.

“Greysteel, actually in a funny sort of a way, helped a bit in that the girl who talked about being at her father’s coffin the previous night, she said to John: ‘We prayed for you, we prayed that those peace talks will reach fruition and please continue with them.’

“And that was the first encouragement that he had got, really, to continue with the talks, and this was from somebody who had suffered intensely.”